A police shooting in California is under investigation after a San Leandro officer allegedly shot and killed a man who was reported to be swinging a baseball bat at a local Walmart.
The San Leandro Police Department says the officer who shot and killed 33-year-old Steven Taylor of San Leandro has been with the department for more than 20 years.
He has been placed on administrative leave.
At least 20 people are being interviewed as witnesses to the shooting at the San Leandro Walmart at 1555 Hesperian Boulevard, according to the San Leandro Police Department.
Officers first responded to the store in San Leandro — just outside of Oakland and Alameda — at 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon after getting a report of a man brandishing a bat, Fox 2 KTVU reports.
“While responding, police say they received reports that the man was now possibly attempting a robbery,” according to the Fox News affiliate.
Authorities found no robbery taking place upon arrival, but did find a man who was allegedly swinging a baseball bat near the store entrance.
“Both officers deployed their tasers, which was not successful,” Lt. Ted Henderson with the San Leandro Police Department told ABC 7 News. “After those deployments, one officer fired one shot. The report is he was swinging a bat. We don’t know how close he was to the officer.”
The Alameda County Coroner’s Office and San Leandro police later identified the suspect as Taylor.
As for the officer’s reported use of force, Lt. Henderson told ABC 7 News that there had to be “some type of perceived threat” for the officers to deploy their tasers.
“If there is a taser deployment, there has to be some type of perceived threat and this is an active threat,” he said.
Just a few hours after the shooting, a video showing the moment the police officer shot and killed the man was posted to social media. (Viewer discretion is advised.)
The video shows the two officers approaching Taylor who is seen with a metal bat. The officers continue to approach Taylor as he is holding the bat and backing away. Witnesses yell for Taylor to drop the bat and, eventually, a shot of some sort is heard. The sound of a bat dropping to the ground is heard, then another shot before Taylor hits the ground.
The federal civil rights attorney representing Taylor’s family said the shooting was unlawful.
An independent autopsy is underway, according to his family.
Myron Flood, who grew up with Taylor, told NBC Bay Area news that Taylor had not been seeming like himself.
He was a loving father to his son, he added.
In a statement to ABC7 News, a Walmart spokesperson writes: “We appreciate the quick response of local authorities and are thankful no one else was injured. We will continue to assist law enforcement and are referring all requests for information to them.”
The video was posted on Twitter by a user with the name @maamas. With nearly 100,000 views, reactions were quick to roll in. Many questioned the officer’s use of force.
“This is the most troubling video I have seen and felt in a very, very long time. The depravity of the police man who shot him in the back is inexplicable,” wrote one user.
“If that shooting is “justifiable”, everyone serving time for murder and even many on death row, should be immediately pardoned,” said another.
Another user claimed to see a blood trail after Taylor was shot, “Got shot first and you can see blood trail as he walks away. He drops bat then gets tazed. Taser makes him drop not a gun shot.”